Zuraida: Spraying disinfectant on roads a heightened precaution

Yiswaree Palansamy

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin carries out a public disinfection operation at a wet market in Jalan Othman March 31, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 — Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin today defended actions of local council workers in spraying disinfection solution on roads, in a Covid-19 hotspot recently.

In a Skype interview with Al-Hijrah last night, Zuraida said that the action was necessary as a heightened precaution in the fight to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

“As for the one done on the roads, I would like to provide my response, as the criticisms did not take matters into account in-depth.

“As of now, there is no one accurate conclusion as to how the coronavirus spreads or travels. There was one time where it was said that it spreads when one sneezes, coughs, airborne and many others.

“So when we spray on the roads, it is not an issue as we are merely taking the 'can’t-miss-anything' attitude for that matter. So when we did sanitisation in public places, whereby we used the Fire and Rescue Department trucks to spray on roads, I feel it is a good trait to be cautious. Add on to the areas sprayed rather than lacking the areas covered So this is just a precaution,” she said.

The Ampang MP said that the disinfection liquid was sponsored as a corporate social responsibility (CSR), without mentioning the sponsor. She added that more would be sponsoring such liquid, as it is made locally, and approved by the Department of Chemistry Malaysia.

She said that less than RM1 million was spent on the initiative.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had yesterday, advised local authorities today to follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) to carry out disinfection procedures, following criticisms over the public exercises.

He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) will communicate with the local authorities such as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) as well the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on its guidelines on how to conduct disinfection operations.

Dr Noor Hisham said the recent disinfection operations carried out by the local authorities such as DBKL, district councils and also the ministry, were done before the MOH could provide guidelines.

He was responding to the concerns raised by several experts over the SOP of the disinfection operation with some describing it as a waste of resources, and suggested that the money could be spent on hospital staff who are lacking personal protective equipment (PPE).

On Monday, Zuraida who wore a PPE, along with the ministry’s personnel, were seen carrying out a public disinfection operation at a wet market in Jalan Othman.

Among the criticisms were that the operation was carried out by a minister untrained in the procedure, in addition to the way chemical-laced water was used to disinfect roads and curbs rather than surfaces that come into direct contact with humans.

During her interview, she also drew comparisons between her purported precautionary move, with that of seeing a medical doctor when one is ill.

“If they think that spraying on roads is wasting money or whatever, it is just like going to the doctor. We meet the doctor and tell the doctor that we are coughing, got the flu. The doctor would then not just give flu medicines, but headache, body ache and cough medicines too.

“So this is something where I cannot label the doctor as doing something pointless. I am a professional and I have to take the doctor’s advice and what’s given,” she added.

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